“Her initials were FAB and she surely was”: Memories of Fliss Beard

Fliss Beard Swiss 12 Group Credit Tricycle Association
Fliss Beard, fourth from left

“Her initials were FAB and she surely was”

Tommy Thompson, Tricycle Association

Felicity Ann ‘Fliss’ Beard was born on 14th September 1952. Fliss first became interested in cycling following her marriage to her husband Dave. They joined the Cyclists’ Touring Club and began riding with the South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire District Association. They also enjoyed riding with Audax UK, or AUK, the long-distance cycling association which had only recently formed in 1976.

Fliss first tried out a tricycle in 1982 and was immediately smitten. She soon purchased a lightweight trike and tandem trike and never again rode a bicycle. She began to ride her trike in Audax long-distance events, which helped improve her stamina and fitness. She rode all over the country and soon began a well-known figure on the cycling circuit.

Fliss became a member of the Tricycle Association in 1984 and enjoyed riding ‘randonees’ of all distances on her trike. A randonee is a French word meaning ‘a long journey’ and is considered by Audax UK to mean a long cycle ride. Fliss became a ‘Randonneur’ several years running, which means a person who has completed a recognised 200km ride. These events are not races or time trials; competitors simply try to do their best within their own limitations.

In 1987 Fliss became the first woman to ride the Paris-Brest-Paris route on solo trike in an impressive time of 70 hours. This event can trace its history back to 1891. It takes place every four years and attracts the largest number of riders at any Audax event. Fliss’s achievement in this event brought her worldwide recognition.

She also became a member of Doncaster Wheelers, and in 1985 at the age of 32, began to take part in time trials. Two years later, on the day before her 35th birthday, she broke the women’s 12-hour cycle record with 216.43 miles under her belt. Over the next two years she held the records for a variety of distances and times, including the 100 mile record, which she completed in 5 hours 4 minutes and 14 seconds on 20th September 1987. She also held the record for 30 and 50 miles, and the 24 hour ride.

Tricycle Association National Diamond Jubilee Dinner 1988
Tricycle Association National Diamond Jubilee Dinner and Award Presentation, 29/10/1988. Fliss receiving her Certificate and medals for her record breaking 24 hours ride in the Mersey Roads Club ’24’ from TA President, Allan Littlemore.

On 9th July 1989 Fliss was taking part in the Tamworth RCC 50-mile on the A38. Tragically, she was hit by a motor vehicle and was killed instantly. She was 36 years old. The cycling community was plunged into deep shock and sorrow as news of the tragedy spread. Fliss was remembered by those who knew her for her energy and enthusiasm, her willingness to talk to people, and her great love of cycling. She was a talented and dedicated rider who achieved many considerable triumphs and who would have undoubtedly continued to break records had her life not been taken away so abruptly.

“On Friday, 14th July many friends from far and wide joined club-members from Doncaster Wheelers, relatives and family at the little church in Sykehouse to pay their last respects. A further service at Rose Hill Crematorium, Doncaster, was attended by even more friends. Fliss has gone from us, but will be forever with us. “
– PC Snowden, TA and Doncaster Wheelers

“The large turnout at the funeral with members from not only the TA and her own club, Doncaster Wheelers, but also the 24 Hour Fellowship and Audax UK served to emphasise her wide-ranging enthusiasm in cycling. Our loss is great, Dave Beard’s loss we can only imagine. Her initials were FAB and she surely was.”
– Tommy Thompson, TA

All images reproduced with kind permission of the Tricycle Association. Thanks to Martin and Mike for their help in producing this article.
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